Ryan Adams accused of sexual misconduct by several women”:

Ryan Adams found fame with albums like Gold and songs such as New York, New York in the early 2000s

Several women have accused alternative rock star Ryan Adams of emotional and verbal abuse and offering career opportunities as a pretext for sex.

A report in the New York Timesoutlines a pattern of manipulative behaviour, including accusations of psychological abuse from his ex-wife, Mandy Moore.

Another woman said Adams sent explicit texts and exposed himself during a Skype call when she was a teenager.

The star, who rose to fame in the early 2000s, has denied the allegations.

“I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes,” he said in a statement posted on social media.

“To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologise deeply and unreservedly.

“But the picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate. Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false. I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period.”

Acclaimed indie artist Phoebe Bridgers was among the seven women and dozens of associates who were interviewed for the New York Times article.

She said that Adams reached out to her when she was 20, offering to release her songs on his record label. Their relationship turned romantic, but Adams became obsessive and manipulative, she claimed, demanding to know her whereabouts and threatening suicide if she did not reply to his texts immediately.

When she broke off their relationship, Adams “became evasive about releasing the music they had recorded together and rescinded the offer to open his upcoming concerts,” the New York Times reported.

Through his lawyer, Adams rejected Bridgers’ account, describing their relationship as “a brief, consensual fling,” and denying he had threatened to withhold her songs.

This Is Us actress Mandy Moore also described a pattern of abuse, describing instances of “destructive, manic sort of back and forth behaviour” during their six-year marriage.

“Music was a point of control for him,” she added, saying the star had belittled her own musical career.

“He would always tell me, ‘You’re not a real musician, because you don’t play an instrument.'”


Moore, who is now a successful actress, says her musical career stalled because of Adams’ behaviour

Another woman, identified only by her middle name, Ava, told the paper her relationship with Adams started in 2013, when she was a teenage bass player.

Although they never met, she shared 3,217 text messages she had exchanged with Adams over a nine-month period when she was 15 and 16, describing how their correspondence became sexually explicit.

In one text he wrote to her: “I would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this”.

The newspaper reported that Adams, then 40, “fretted about Ava’s age” and repeatedly asked for reassurances that she was over 18.

“If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol,” he wrote in one message, referring to the R&B singer, who has faced allegations of inappropriate relationships with teenagers, which he denies”:

Adams’ lawyer said the star “did not recall having online communications with anyone related to anything outside of music,” adding that “if, in fact, this woman was underage, Mr Adams was unaware”.

Familiar behaviour

After the report was published on Wednesday, dozens of female artists came forward to say they had been through similar experiences in the music industry.

“None of this is surprising to female artists,” wrote country musician Caroline Rose on Twitter .

“This is an important article,”added singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton . “This also cracks the door on more like him in our industry. There are more. We’re all fed up.”

“Literally find me a woman in the music industry who hasn’t had a some dude pull that Ryan Adams ‘I wanna help you’ with strings attached [expletive]?” wrote music journalist Jessica Hopper .

“And like in this story, these are some of the reasons women abandon careers, keep their dreams private, record in their bedrooms alone.”

“Having to perpetually question if a potential collaborator is interested in you musically or personally is an enormous and unspoken barrier for women in music,” said Tamara Lindeman, of Canadian folk band The Weather Station .

“Every gatekeeper is a man. And so you have to ask yourself.”

 If you have a story suggestion emailing Your Stories, (BBCNEWS.CO.UK@bbcnewslight.co.uk) Or (Donsilas@chef.net)

Valentine’s Day: India college row over ‘virgin tree’ worship”:

Some women students say the celebration is anti-women

A Valentine’s Day celebration at a prestigious college in the Indian capital, Delhi, where students worship a “virgin tree” every year has run into trouble with some female students who say it’s “patriarchal” and “misogynistic” and must be shelved.

For decades now, male students of the Hindu College have been hosting a puja (ritualistic worship) at the tree, and balloons, colourful ribbons and condoms filled with water would be hung from its branches.

Posters of the latest avatar of the goddess Damdami Mai – generally a top Bollywood actress or a model chosen by the students – would be unveiled in the morning and pinned to the tree.

A male student dressed as a Hindu priest would perform religious rituals, hundreds of students would sing a hymn in praise of the “generally curvaceous goddess”, prasad (food offering made to her) would be distributed among the students who would dance and celebrate.

Over the years, a legend has grown that worshipping at the tree would help a student lose his virginity within six months.

In a largely conservative country like India where pre-marital sex is still taboo, many young adults believe nothing less than divine intervention will help them hook up.


Posters of Bollywood actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Ranveer Singh were put up at last year’s event

Teli Venkatesh, the 19-year-old president of the boys’ hostel union which is organising the event, told the BBC that the virgin tree pujawas an old tradition at the college and that hundreds of students, including women, participated in it every year.

Describing it as “some harmless fun”, he said it had started “because people wanted to celebrate love”.

Some female students, however, say the event “sexualises and objectifies” women and has no place in a “secular, intellectual” space like their college.

“The male students pick an actress who is attractive enough to be labelled Damdami Mai and the puja reeks of Brahminical ritual practices of caste pride,” Aashi Datta, a 20-year-old undergrad student at the college, told the BBC.

Ms Datta – a member of the Pinjra Tod (or Break the Cage) movement that’s campaigning for equal rights for women on college campuses and also part of the Women Development Cell of the Hindu College – says the event is held in a “hyper masculine, aggressive environment” and that in past years, women’s participation was “not even 5%”.


On Thursday morning, she will be near the tree along with “some 20 other students, including a few men” to hold a protest, demanding a “complete stop” to this “offensive” puja .

Mr Venkatesh accuses Ms Datta of trying to “politicise” a college event and says that students who “enthusiastically participate” in the celebrations come from different states and belong to different religions and castes.

He also lists the changes they have incorporated this time to make the event more inclusive.

“Since this is about celebrating love, we are selecting a couple who are in a long-lasting relationship. To address the criticism that we are not just about heterosexual love, we are putting up pride flags and placards to celebrate the LGBT community. And we are hanging condoms to promote safe sex, bring awareness about sexually transmitted diseases and end taboos about sex.”

He also said that they would use a fully clothed photograph of the actress chosen as this year’s goddess and that the hymn lyrics had been rewritten to make it less descriptive of the female body.

Ms Datta and the other protesters, however, say nothing short of completely stopping this event will do.

“Legacy and tradition are not good enough reasons to continue with a festival. It’s a liberal college, we need to choose which traditions to follow and which ones to drop,” she insists.

On Tuesday, the two warring sides met, along with some professors, to find a way out, but the stalemate remains.


A meeting held on Tuesday to sort out the differences over the controversial event ended in a stalemate

Prof PK Vijayan, who was invited by the female students to speak at the meeting, was a student at Hindu in the late 1980s when the virgin tree puja began.

“It started with courting couples sitting around the tree and so it came to be known as the lovers’ tree,” he says. “In those days, there was little awareness about Valentine’s Day in India. But over the years, the celebrations became more structured and the tree was festooned with condoms and posters of women regarded as beautiful.

“And then students began believing that eating the prasad would help them lose their virginity and the boys lined up for it and so did some girls.”

Prof Vijayan agrees that women’s participation in the festival is very low and says he’s heard some women say that they are uncomfortable with the way it is conducted.

But he says he’s not comfortable with “any type of puritanical ideas” and suggests that they continue with the puja but modify it.

“I think the female students should be more flexible and instead of demanding a ban, they should take it over and redesign it the way they want to.

“Unfortunately, at the moment it is done as a celebration of machismo. It should be made more inclusive so that women could participate as those who also desire, and not just as the desired.”

‘Know your cholesterol like you know your Pin code’

Most cases of cardiovascular disease are preventable through a healthy diet and lifestyle

People are being encouraged to know their cholesterol and blood pressure numbers as well as they know their bank Pin code – because it could save their life.

These numbers flag up early signs of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Forty health organisations have teamed up to urge more people to go for a routine NHS health check.

Doctors should also identify and treat at-risk patients better, they say.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes one in four deaths in England, the equivalent of someone dying every four minutes, according to Public Health England and NHS England.

Poor heart and artery health can also lead to heart failure, kidney disease, arterial disease and vascular dementia.

So, health bodies are leading efforts to improve the detection and treatment of three conditions that contribute to CVD – atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – over the next 10 years.

These conditions often have no symptoms, which is why health experts are recommending people take up free NHS health checks for all over-40s at GP surgeries, some local pharmacies and shopping centres.

They also urge people over 30 to take the Heart Age Test.

Keith Wilson
Keith had to give up work after his second heart attack

‘I had to give up work’

Keith Wilson, from Liverpool, had a heart attack out of the blue at 37.

“I had no symptoms and no reason to believe I was sick in any way,” he says.

His father had died of heart disease in his late 60s so he assumed it was something that happened to older people.

“I just didn’t consider I was going to get it. I was complacent,” he says.

After a second heart attack, Keith spent the next three to four years in and out of hospital receiving treatment.

He had to give up work and this really affected his family and young son.

Now 60, Keith is mindful of his health and keeps a close eye on how much he drinks and exercises. He gave up smoking straight after his heart attacks.

‘Prevention better than cure’

Most cases of CVD are preventable and, alongside free health checks, PHE recommends people should:

  • stop smoking
  • eat healthily
  • keep to a healthy weight
  • drink at safe levels

The report also calls on health professionals to improve the way they manage patients at risk of CVD.

By 2029, PHE and NHS England want:

  • 80% of people with high blood pressure detected and treated – up from 57% currently
  • 75% of 40- to 74-year-olds having cholesterol levels measured – fewer than 50% currently take up the free health check
  • 45% of 40- to 74-year-olds at high risk of CVD treated with statins – up from from 35% currently

These targets will help meet the commitment to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and cases of dementia, as set out in the government’s long-term plan for the NHS.

But there is no new funding for these new targets.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: “We know our Pin numbers but not the numbers that save our lives.

“Thousands of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented by more people knowing their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and by seeking help early.”

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said reducing health inequalities was also a priority, with people in the most deprived communities four times more likely to die prematurely from CVD than those in the most well off.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Almost half of those with high blood pressure are going about their daily lives without it being detected or treated.

“Millions of people are needlessly at risk of heart attacks or strokes when it could be prevented.

“So, I want to help more people take the time out to protect their future health and get checked.”

Five million people are estimated to have undiagnosed high blood pressure in England.

Pangolins: Rare insight into world’s most trafficked mammal”:

A study is being conducted by conservationists from Chester Zoo

The secret life of the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin, has been caught on camera in Africa.

Footage gives a rare insight into the behaviour of the giant pangolin, the largest of all the scaly animals.

Observed by remote-operated cameras, a baby takes a ride on its mother’s back, while an adult climbs a tree.

Scientists are releasing the footage to highlight the plight of the animals, which are being pushed to extinction by illegal hunting for scales and meat.

Large numbers of their scales have been seized this month alone, including Malaysia’s biggest-ever interception of smuggled pangolin products.

The images and video clips of giant pangolins, one of four species in Africa, were taken at Uganda’s Ziwa sanctuary, where the animals live alongside protected rhinos and are safe from poaching.

Stuart Nixon of Chester Zoo’s Africa Field Programme said much of their behaviour has never been recorded before.

“We know so little about this species, almost everything we’re picking up on camera traps this year as a behaviour is a new thing,” he told BBC News.

The giant pangolin: The largest of the eight pangolin species
The giant pangolin: The largest of the eight species
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  • Sometimes called scaly anteaters, they are the only mammals in the world to be covered in protective scales
  • Their scales are made of keratin, the same material found in human fingernails
  • Pangolins lap up ants and termites with their long sticky tongues
  • There are four species in Africa -the African white-bellied pangolin, giant ground pangolin, ground pangolin and black-bellied pangolin
  • The giant pangolin, found in the rainforests and grasslands of equatorial Africa, is the biggest, measuring up to 1.8m long and weighing up to 75lbs.
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The pangolin is said to be the most widely trafficked mammal in the world.

Its scales are in high demand in Asia for use in traditional Chinese medicine, despite there being no medical benefit for their use, while its meat is considered a delicacy in some countries.

This week, authorities in Malaysia seized more than 27 tonnes of pangolins and their scales – believed to be worth at least £1.6m – on Borneo, in the biggest such haul in the country.

Pangolins are regarded as a delicacy in some countries
They are regarded as a delicacy in some countries

The wildlife monitoring group Traffic said police had discovered two big pangolin-processing facilities stocked with thousands of boxes of meat in the eastern state of Sabah.

“It is hoped that comprehensive investigations can lead to unmasking the syndicate and networks operating from the state and beyond,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Traffic’s director in Southeast Asia.

The discovery comes just days after 10 tonnes of scales were intercepted in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Uganda.

Scientists say the plight of the animals looks bleak, and they have no idea how many are left in the wild.

Pangolin scales intercepted on Borneo
Pangolin scales intercepted on Borneo

Stuart Nixon, who is working in collaboration with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Rhino Fund Uganda on the project, said they are encountered so rarely in the wild that there is not enough data to allow a decent estimate.

A study is under way to survey and monitor giant pangolins at the site as the first step towards identifying their strongholds.

“This species is literally being wiped out, it’s being obliterated across central Africa, there’s no doubt about that,” he added. “Trying to get people engaged and to care about pangolins is really the key step.”

Sam Mwandha of the Uganda Wildlife Authority added: “These rare glimpses into the lives of giant pangolins are very exciting for those of us dedicated to protecting Uganda’s rich wildlife and challenges us to ensure that we protect and conserve this highly threatened species for future generations.”

El Chapo's wife, Emma Coronel, was in court in New York for Tuesday's verdict

El Chapo trial: Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán found guilty

El Chapo trial: Five facts about Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been found guilty on all 10 counts at his drug-trafficking trial at a federal court in New York.

Guzmán, 61, was convicted on numerous counts including the distribution of cocaine and heroin, illegal firearms possession and money laundering.

He has yet to be sentenced, but the verdict could mean life in jail.

Guzmán was arrested in January 2016 after escaping from a Mexican prison through a tunnel five months earlier.

He was extradited to the US in 2017.

The Mexican was accused of being behind the all-powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, which prosecutors say was the biggest supplier of drugs to the US.

What happened in court?

Tuesday’s unanimous verdict by a jury in Brooklyn, which was read out in a packed courtroom, followed an 11-week trial.

Guzmán, wearing a dark suit jacket and tie, showed no visible sign of emotion as the verdict was announced, CBS News reported.

US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard Donoghue, called it “a day of reckoning”

As he was escorted from the courtroom, he exchanged glances with his wife, Emma Coronel, a 29-year-old former beauty queen, before shaking hands with his lawyers.

Judge Brian Cogan, who presided over the trial, thanked the jurors for their dedication at what he described as a complex trial, saying it was “remarkable and it made me very proud to be an American”.

Who is El Chapo?

“El Chapo” (or “Shorty”) ran the Sinaloa cartel in northern Mexico.

Mexico’s drug war: Has it turned the tide?

Over time, it became one of the biggest traffickers of drugs to the US and, in 2009, Guzmán entered Forbes’ list of the world’s richest men at number 701, with an estimated worth of $1bn (£775m).

He was accused of having helped export hundreds of tonnes of cocaine into the US and of conspiring to manufacture and distribute heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.

He was also said to have used hitmen to carry out “hundreds” of murders, assaults, kidnappings and acts of torture on rivals.

Key associates, including one former lieutenant, testified against Guzmán.

Emma Coronel, the wife of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, leaves court in New York, 12 February 2019
El Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel, was in court in New York for Tuesday’s verdict

What was heard during the trial?

It provided shocking revelations about the Mexican drug lord’s life.

Court papers accused him of having girls as young as 13 drugged before raping them.

Guzmán “called the youngest of the girls his ‘vitamins’ because he believed that sexual activity with young girls gave him ‘life'”, former associate Colombian drug trafficker Alex Cifuentes was quoted as saying.

During the trial Cifuentes also alleged that Guzmán gave a $100m (£77m) bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is said to have contacted him after taking office in 2012 and asked for $250m in return for ending a manhunt for him. Mr Pena Nieto has not publicly commented.

Sketch of Alex Cifuentes (L) and Guzmán
Former associate Cifuentes (L) alleged that Guzmán (R) bribed Mexico’s then president

Another witness described seeing Guzmán murder at least three men.

Former bodyguard Isaias Valdez Rios said Guzmán beat two people who had joined a rival cartel until they were “completely like rag dolls”. He then shot them in the head and ordered their bodies be thrown on a fire.

In another incident, he had a member of the rival Arellano Felix cartel burned and imprisoned before taking him to a graveyard, shooting him and having him buried alive.

Guzmán is also alleged to have had his own cousin killed for lying about being out of town, and ordered a hit on the brother of another cartel leader because he did not shake his hand.

When asked by a former cartel lieutenant why he killed people, he is alleged to have said: “Either your mom’s going to cry or their mom’s going to cry.”

Guzmán's wife Emma Coronel attended the trial in New York
Guzmán’s wife Emma Coronel attended the trial

The court heard details of his 2015 escape from Mexico’s maximum-security Altiplano prison. His sons bought a property near the prison and a GPS watch smuggled into the prison gave diggers his exact location.

At one point Guzmán complained that he could hear the digging from his cell. He escaped by riding a specially adapted small motorcycle through the tunnel.

He also used software on his phone to spy on his wife and mistresses, which allowed the FBI to present his text messages in court.

In one set of texts, he recounted to his wife how he had fled a villa during a raid by US and Mexican officials, before asking her to bring him new clothes, shoes and black moustache dye.

Why was this trial significant?

Guzmán is the highest profile Mexican drug cartel boss so far to stand trial in the US.

The drug war in Mexico – pitting the Mexican and US authorities against cartels smuggling drugs into the US and the cartels against each other – has killed about 100,000 people over more than a decade.

A former DEA agent describes capturing Guzmán in 2014 – he later escaped

Guzmán achieved notoriety for twice escaping custody in Mexico as well as avoiding arrest on numerous other occasions.

Among some in his home state, he had the status of a folk hero a popular subject of “narcocorridos” – musical tributes to drugs barons.

In 2016, he gave an interview to Hollywood actor Sean Penn in a Mexican jungle following his escape the previous year and boasted that he was the world’s leading supplier of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.

He was later recaptured in the north-western town of Los Mochis. During the raid he fled through a drain but was later caught by troops in a shootout.

The Brooklyn Bridge was closed each time Guzmán was driven across it
New York’s Brooklyn Bridge was closed each time the motorcade containing Guzmán drove across it

The US indictment against him was a consolidation of charges from six federal jurisdictions across the country, including New York, Chicago and Miami.

Prosecutors pooled together evidence acquired over more than a decade, including from international partners such as Mexico and Colombia, to build their sweeping case.

The trial jurors were anonymous and were escorted to and from the courthouse in Brooklyn by armed marshals after prosecutors argued that Guzmán had a history of intimidating witnesses and even ordering their murders.

Olivia Colman was nominated for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite

Baftas 2019: Film awards ceremony is under way

SPOILER ALERT: This story is being updated live and will include the latest news from the Bafta ceremony, which runs from 19:00 GMT to 21:30 GMT.

It is being broadcast on BBC One from 21:00 until 23:00. So please stop reading if you don’t want to know the winners in real time!

The Favourite has dominated the awards, winning seven including outstanding British film.

Olivia Colman won best actress and Rachel Weisz best supporting actress.

She said they were having “such an amazing night” and would be enjoying some drinks later.

The Favourite’s other awards were best production design, best costume design and best hair and make-up and best original screenplay.

Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma also had a successful night picking up four prizes – best film, best director, best cinematography and best film not in the English language.

After picking up best cinematography, Curaon said: “It’s an amazing honour, Bafta, thank you very much.

“Foreign is just a different colour, and colour complements each other, I’m very happy Bafta is honouring a story about a domestic worker of indigenous background.

“The specific colour of this film is Mexico, so I want to thank also Mexico.”

Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman
The Favourite is also nominated for the Oscars

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite’s director, said of the outstanding film award: “It’s a great honour… this film took 20 years to make – I contributed to the last 10.”

He also thanked actresses Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz saying: “Of course the three leading ladies that I couldn’t be more proud of.”

Collecting the prize for original screenplay, Deborah Davis said: “I’m so excited to be standing here to receive my first Bafta for my first screenplay.

“Thank you for celebrating our female-dominated movie about women in power.”

Rami Malek won the leading actor prize at the Baftas for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Rami Malek
Malek paid tribute to Freddie Mercury

The film also won best sound.

Malek said as he collected his Bafta: “You Brits do music well, it’s not lost on me how sacred your musical heritage is. Thank you to the greatest outsider of them all, Freddie Mercury.”

‘Different colour’

Many of the night’s prizes were split amongst several films.

Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor for Green Book and was visibly moved as he collected his award. He praised his fellow nominees for “their work”.

Claire Foy
Claire Foy is nominated for her role in space drama First Man

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman won best adapted screenplay.

“Brooklyn’s in the house!” he yelled triumphantly as he collected his prize.

Letitia Wright gave an emotional speech as she picked up the Bafta rising star award.

Boost from Bafta

“A few years ago I saw myself in a deep state of depression and I wanted to quit acting.

“The only thing that pretty much pulled me out of that was God, my belief, my faith and my family and an email from Bafta saying they wanted me to be a part of the Bafta Breakthrough Brits, and I was like ‘let me try again’.”

Yalitza Aparicio
Yalitza Aparicio is the star of Roma, which has won two awards so far

No Lady Gaga

Black Panther won best visual effects.

Other winners included Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse, which won best animated film and Roughhouse, which won British short animation.

Best British short film was 73 Cows, while Vice won best editing.

A Star is Born won the award for best original music.

Lady Gaga, who appears opposite Cooper in A Star Is Born, did not attend as the ceremonyclashes with the Grammys in the US.

But she posted on Twitter:

Richard Madden
Bodyguard star Richard Madden was among the early arrivals

The Favourite, which stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, led the race with 12 nominations.

The ceremony, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, is being hosted by Joanna Lumley for the second consecutive year.

Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, Roma and First Man, each have seven nods.

The ceremony began at 19:00 GMT.

The Baftas are often a good indicator of who will go on to awards glory at the Oscars – which are being held this year on Sunday 24 February.

The Oscars have decided to not have a host this year after Kevin Hart stepped down following a controversy over homophobic tweets.

Lumley joked: “Thank goodness Bafta has a host. But that’s probably just down to the fact I’m not on Twitter.”

Bafta best actress nominee Melissa McCarthy praises her co-star Richard E Grant
Bafta best actress nominee Melissa McCarthy praises her co-star Richard E Grant

Last year, the winners of the acting categories – Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman, Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell – were exactly the same at the Baftas and the Oscars.

However, the Baftas are historically more likely to reward British talent than the Academy Awards, which could mean wins for Colman and Richard E Grant.

A selection of this year's Bafta nominations

The Favourite was the only production to be up for both best film and outstanding British film.

Weisz told the BBC: “It was very exciting to work with the two goddesses that are Olivia Colman and Emma Stone.

“It was a true ensemble so it’s lovely that all three of us have been recognised here tonight (Weisz, Colman and Stone). Emma’s not here, she’s filming… but she’s an honorary Brit, her English accent is better than mine!”

Speaking of the film’s playfulness and wit, she said: “It was Yorgos Lanthimos (the director) – the tone was down to him. I’m just a member of his orchestra.”

One person who definitely won’t be recognised among the winners is Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer.

His name has been removed from the film’s Bafta nomination due to allegations he sexually abused under-age boys.

Brian May
Brian May and Anita Dobson are supporting the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody

Singer denies the allegations which he calls a “homophobic smear”.

Speaking on the red carpet, Queen’s Brian May said of the Singer controversy: “It’s nothing to do with us. He hasn’t been the director for a long time. He was sacked for very good reason… not by us, by Fox so it’s a very arm’s-length thing for us.

“The only reason he’s on the movie is his guild forced Fox to do this… technically, really, he’s not the director of the movie. That’s just life.

“Everybody who had something to do with the movie should be very proud.”

Contact Email (BBCNEWS.CO.UK@bbcnewslight.co.uk) or (emmanueljustice@post.com

Thailand’s king condemns bid by sister to become PM

Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn has denounced as “inappropriate” his sister’s unprecedented bid to run for prime minister in March’s election.

In a palace statement, he said such an act would “defy the nation’s culture”.

Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, 67, has been nominated as a candidate for a party allied to divisive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

Such a move would break with the tradition of the Thai royal family publicly staying out of politics.

Analysts say the king’s intervention is likely to lead to the election commission disqualifying her from the 24 March election.

The vote is being closely watched as the first chance for Thailand to return to democracy after five years under military rule.

US-Bangla crash: Nepal says pilot had ’emotional breakdown’

Wang Quanzhang: China jails leading human rights lawyer

In a palace statement broadcast on all Thai TV networks, the king said: “Even though she has relinquished her royal titles in writing, she maintained her status and carried herself as a member of the Chakri dynasty.

File image of Thai King Vajiralongkorn outside Bangkok's royal palace on May 14, 2018
King Vajiralongkorn says the princess retains her status as a member of the royal family

“Involvement of a high-ranking member of the royal family in politics, in whatever way, is considered an act that defies the nation’s traditions, customs and culture, and therefore is considered extremely inappropriate.”

The statement cited a passage of the constitution that says the monarchy should maintain political neutrality.

Hours earlier, Princess Ubolratana defended her decision to run for office.

In an Instagram post, she reiterated that she had relinquished all her royal titles and now lived as a commoner.

She said she wanted to exercise her rights as an ordinary citizen by offering her candidacy for prime minister. She said she would work with all sincerity and determination for the prosperity of all Thais.

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A miscalculation by military’s opponents?

Analysis by Jonathan Head, BBC News Bangkok

The entry of flamboyant Princess Ubolratana’s into the political fray threatened to upend an election in which the military government has stacked the odds in its own favour through a new constitution and electoral system.

Now King Vajiralongkorn has issued an unusually strong statement censuring the nomination of his sister.

The decision to nominate the princess now looks like a grave miscalculation.

It will weaken the pro-Shinawatra faction seeking to push the military out of politics, which until now seemed likely to win the largest share of seats in the new parliament. It also underlines the power and influence of the new king, whose word on matters of state that he believes concern him is always final.

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Who is Princess Ubolratana Mahidol?

Born in 1951, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi is the oldest child of Thailand’s beloved late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He died in 2016.

She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and after marrying an American in 1972 she gave up her royal title. After her divorce she returned to Thailand in 2001 and once again started participating in royal life.

The princess engages actively in social media and has also starred in several Thai movies.

She has three children, one of whom died in the 2004 Asian tsunami. The other two now also live in Thailand.

The princess has registered for the Thai Raksa Chart party, which is closely linked to Mr Thaksin.

Why is the election important?

It will be the first vote since current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha took power in 2014, overthrowing the democratic government and ousting ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of Mr Thaksin.

Both Mr Thaksin and his sister live in self-imposed exile but remain a powerful force in Thai politics, with many in the country remaining loyal to them.

Prayuth Chan-ocha delivers a speech in Tokyo on February 9, 2015
Prayuth Chan-ocha is running as a candidate for the pro-military Palang Pracharat party

In 2016, Thais voted to approve a new constitution created by the country’s military leaders, which was designed to perpetuate military influence and block Mr Thaksin’s allies from winning another election.

But the princess aligning herself with a party allied with Mr Thaksin threatens those plans, correspondents say.

A former general, Mr Prayuth also announced on Friday that he would be running for prime minister in the forthcoming election as a candidate for the pro-military Palang Pracharat party.

Thailand has some of the world’s toughest royal defamation “lese-majeste” laws but technically the princess is not covered by them.

However, the royal family is revered in Thailand and rarely criticised, so there are questions around whether any other candidate would want to challenge a member of the royal family.

Who controls Canada's indigenous lands?

Who controls Canada’s indigenous lands?

The courts in Canada are grappling with a decision central to the relationship between Canadian and traditional indigenous laws.

The dispute involves the construction of a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline in the province of British Columbia.

It’s a project which has exposed a rift between elected and hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en people, who disagree about whether to allow the pipeline to be built through traditional lands.

The elected councils have jurisdiction within the boundaries of the reservations to administer federal government legislation, but not the wider traditional territory which the pipeline would pass through.

The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en nation are stewards and protecters of 22,000 square km (13,670 square miles) of traditional territory, outside the reservations.

They are concerned about the impact of the project on their land and natural resources.

Hereditary Chief Na’Moks of the Tsayu clan, which is part of the Wet’suwet’en people, told the BBC: “You always have to put the environment first.”

So what’s behind the dispute, and who have the courts favoured?

Map of the territory and pipeline dispute

The pipeline

The proposed pipeline would carry gas to the port of Kitimat from the interior of British Columbia, a journey of 670 km (420 miles), passing partly through indigenous lands.

The construction company Coastal GasLink has reached deals with elected indigenous councils along the route.

Alex Spence beats a drum and sings during a march in support of pipeline protesters in Vancouver
Protesters in Vancouver have been trying to get the project stopped

This involved permission to build the pipeline in return for local jobs and investment in the area.

Coastal GasLink says it also consulted the hereditary leaders.

But the chiefs say that did not happen, and that they did not give their approval because of environmental concerns.

Suzanne Wilton, a communications adviser for the company, told the BBC: “Coastal GasLink initiated consultation with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs in June 2012 by providing formal notification of the proposed project.

“Since then, Coastal GasLink has engaged in a wide range of consultation activities with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.”

Chief Na’Moks responded: “That is their statement…we ensured that we stated at any meetings that these meetings cannot be misconstrued as ‘consultation’.”

Protests by groups supporting the hereditary leaders’ decision have followed near the proposed construction site, and across Canada.

In December, the Supreme Court in British Columbia issued an injunction so that construction could go ahead, and protesters were ordered to remove barriers from access roads.

Police arrived to break up the barriers and remove the protesters, 14 of whom were arrested.

But this provincial Supreme Court ruling was only temporary, and it will shortly make a final decision on the case.

Who speaks for indigenous peoples?

At its heart, this is a dispute about who represents and speaks for Canada’s indigenous communities.

Responding to a question at a recent town hall meeting , Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the problem of dealing with two distinct groups of indigenous representatives.

“It is not for the federal government to decide who speaks for you. That’s not my job,” he said.

Hereditary chiefs are chosen by elders and clan members.

The elected indigenous councils were set up by the federal government under the Indian Act of 1876, which defined “Indian” status in Canada, and were designed as a means to assimilate indigenous people.

As such, the elected councils remain a controversial legacy of the past.

A checkpoint is seen at a bridge leading to the Unist"ot"en camp on a remote logging road.
A protest camp on a road near the pipeline construction project

“Canada has a long and terrible history in regards to indigenous people,” said Justin Trudeau at the same town hall meeting.

“We have not treated indigenous peoples as partners and stewards of this land.”

The Indian Act does not recognise hereditary indigenous chiefs, although they do often serve on elected councils, and the two groups work together on community-wide projects.

” We are hereditary chiefs ,” Chief Na’Moks told local media recently in British Columbia, and, referring to the route through which the pipeline would pass, he said “we have control of this land.”

“What’s called the hereditary system is the historic legal and political and economic system of the Wet’suwet’ens, which was in place for thousands and thousands of years before Europeans came to what became Canada,” says Val Napoleon at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

The decision

A federal Supreme Court ruling in 1997 gave indigenous people title over their own traditional lands which had not been ceded to the government.

This gave hope to First Nation communities across Canada which had been campaigning to protect their lands from developers.

Tensions have remained in some areas over precisely which indigenous representatives have these rights in Canada.

It’s a complex issue as indigenous leadership structures vary across the country.

But the forthcoming ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia will have important implications for the future of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory.

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Reality Check branding

The model is seen here behind Best TV Actor winner Richard Madden

Fiji Water Girl: Legal battle for Golden Globes model

A model who found viral fame by arguably outshining celebrities on the Golden Globe red carpet is locked in a legal battle with the bottled water company that helped make her famous.

Kelly Steinbeich, who uses the name Kelleth Cuthbert to model, became known overnight as the Fiji Water Girl.

She had been photographed smiling as she held a tray of water bottles behind celebrities at the event in Hollywood.

She and Fiji are now feuding over the use of her image in marketing.

The Canadian model, 31, filed a lawsuit against Fiji Water and its owner, the Wonderful Company, in January after they used her likeness for a promotional cardboard cut-out.

She accused the company of unauthorised use of her photograph, likeness and identity for a worldwide advertising campaign.

In a countersuit filed on Friday, the owners of Fiji Water said Ms Steinbeich had knowingly signed an exclusive one-year deal worth $90,000 (£70,000) and accused her and her agents of “simple greed”.

Model posing behind Judy Greer
Image captionMs Steinbach posing behind actress Judy Greer

They described her lawsuit is a “blatant attempt to skirt her contractual obligations” and said she was now trying to extort them for up to $500,000 (£385,000).

“Ms. Steinbach has now bitten the hand that feeds her by suing the very company that is entirely responsible for providing her the opportunity and the means to capitalize on her fleeting 15 minutes of internet fame,” the lawsuit alleges.

Since the model’s photographs were shared widely in January, the model has amassed more than 200,000 followers on Instagram, made television appearances and scored endorsement deals of her own.

In interviews after she went viral, Ms Steinbach denied she had been asked to photobomb the images, insisting she had simply been doing her job of “hydrating the stars”.

“If you’re going to be trapped in a photo, you gotta look good,” she told local Los Angeles television channel KTLA 5.

“There is not just a camera – there are so many cameras that you are caught in the crossfire no matter where you stand. You’re just in somebody’s shot. You can’t avoid it.”

Her legal team have described the countersuit as a publicity stunt.

“Kelleth will not be bullied by Fiji Water, the Wonderful Company, or its billionaire owners,” her lawyer, Kecia Reynolds, told CBS News.

Turning Point UK's leaders as pictured on the group's original website

The battle over Britain’s newest student movement

To say that the launch of Britain’s newest right-wing student organisation suffered a few snags is a bit like reporting that Brexit negotiations have not all been plain sailing.

Turning Point UK (TPUK) is an offshoot of Turning Point USA, a controversial and staunchly pro-Trump presence on American campuses.

The group announced its arrival last week, proclaiming itself a cheerleader for capitalism, free speech and limited government. It was enthusiastically received by leading Brexiteers including Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

But Twitter was not entirely welcoming, and TPUK almost immediately found itself hit by a tsunami of online mockery. Dozens of parody accounts quickly appeared.

The accounts posted caricatures of leading TPUK members such as Darren Grimes, a pro-Brexit campaigner fined £20,000 for breaking EU referendum spending laws

Much of the humour revolves around portraying TPUK as privileged, or extremists.

There are also multiple memes depicting Turning Point USA’s founder Charlie Kirk in nappies – a reference to a backfiring publicity stunt in which American activists dressed as babies to ridicule the idea of campus “safe spaces”.

Mock image of Charlie Kirk in diapers from Twitter

Many of the parody accounts are visually almost indistinguishable from actual TPUK accounts. To add to the confusion, both the parody and genuine accounts furiously denounced each other on Twitter. In Cambridge, each accused the other of being socialist saboteurs who should be removed from the platform. Victory was eventually claimed by the genuine account when the parody one was handed a Twitter ban.

Tweets by rival TPUK Cambridge accounts denouncing the other as fake.

At first, the main national TPUK account appeared mildly irritated and promised to help supporters navigate their way through the fakes.

But as the parody army continued to grow, TPUK staged a tactical retreat. The national account now says that it is the only real one, even though some apparently genuine branch accounts remain.

Happy with launch

Despite all the confusion, TPUK chairman George Farmer says that he is broadly happy with how the launch has gone.

“You can never stop people creating fake accounts. It’s one of the joys of the internet,” he told BBC Trending. “People are always going to create hundreds of fake accounts in the same way that they do for Trump.”

Farmer says that TPUK is seeking Twitter verification – which comes with that coveted blue tick – to help make clear which are the organisation’s real accounts. The main account, @TPointUK, has already attracted more than 19,000 followers.

But there’s another problem – there’s already a well-established Turning Point in Britain. It’s not political at all, rather it’s an organisation that supports people with drug and alcohol problems.

The original Turning Point told Trending it received no advance warning of the creation of a similarly-named group.

“Turning Point would like to make it clear that we have no connection to TPointUK or any political movements,” the charity said in a statement. “Many people are concerned about the confusion.”

But Farmer says his group has done nothing wrong: “We don’t have the same name. We don’t have the same logo. It’s completely different.”

Parody network

So who is behind the online onslaught against Turning Point UK?

Many of the parody accounts have posted a link to a satirical version of the TPUK website created by a student blogger who goes by the alias “Skeptical Seventh”.

The website makes a mock plea for an end to the online harassment of TPUK: “Our organisation has been labelled ‘a glorified incel support group.’ This is just plain misleading, some of us like UKIP”.

Skeptical Seventh, who declined to give his real name, says that the parody accounts were a spontaneous reaction by individuals concerned about what they regard as the import of a “sinister” right-wing movement whose US operation is funded by big Republican Party donors .

“A lot of the people who are involved with the parody accounts are broadly left-leaning,” says Skeptical Seventh. “It’s really unified all corners of the left and even some of the centre and maybe even centre-right,” he says.

“There was a Twitter group chat with all the different fake accounts and 50 is the limit on the number of people you can have in group chat, and they couldn’t get everybody in,” Skeptical Seventh says.

‘Professor Watchlist’

The people behind the parody accounts have also set up at least two fundraising pages to seek donations for the charity Turning Point’s drink and drug services.

Skeptical Seventh rejects the accusation of TPUK supporters that the parodies are puerile and evidence of the intellectual poverty of the left.

“I think for an organisation that once had a chapter dressing up as as toddlers in nappies, it’s a bit rich of them to try to call the people opposing them immature,” he says.

The group’s critics have also taken issue with Turning Point USA’s “Professor Watchlist” – an online registry of professors that the group accuses of advancing “a radical agenda”.

“They must know that what they are doing will lead to people being harassed, being shut down,” says Skeptical Seventh. “It is undermining academic freedom, which is ironic for an organisation that claims to be in favour of free speech.”

The British organisation won’t be setting up a similar list, one of the group’s “influencers”, Dominique Samuels, told BBC Radio 5 Live.

TPUK says it wants to challenge the notion that students will naturally gravitate towards left-wing politics.

“Why is it that all young people feel obliged to vote for Labour?” Farmer asks. “Just talk some of my friends, if you tell them you’re a conservative, it’s like you’re banished. That’s not freedom of thought. That’s thought control.”

Samuels says she has suffered online abuse for publically identifying herself as a young black woman who is a conservative.

Funding questions

The American group has been organised as a type of non-profit organisation which is not required to disclose its sources of funding. That lack of transparency has given additional fuel for its critics. Questions have also been asked about TPUK’s accounts.

George Farmer is a former Tory party donor and son of Lord Farmer, a multi-millionaire and former Conservative Party treasurer. The foundation of TPUK was announced with an event at the Royal Automobile Club, hosted by another multi-millionaire, John Mappin.

Farmer says TPUK won’t identify its donors because to do so would make them targets for abuse. He rejects assertions that TPUK is sponsored by the privileged elite rather than a “grassroots” organisation.

“I would love it if these privileged people gave us some money because we don’t have much money coming in,” he says. “We are raising money from UK-based donors. We are trying to do things the right way.”

The Trump factor

Although Turning Point USA cannot officially work on behalf of candidates – and has faced allegations that it has broken election campaign laws – its founder Charlie Kirk is an outspoken supporter of President Trump and a close friend of Donald Trump Jr.

Farmer is engaged to Candace Owens, the US organisation’s communications director, who has been heavily involved – not always happily – with Kanye West’s unusual interactions with the president.

Farmer also says he’s an admirer of Trump, who he sees as a bombastic but effective disruptor.

“Anecdotally, loads of conversations I’ve had with people are like: I don’t like his style but I like his policies,” he says. “You don’t have to like him as a person… He’s elected to get the job done.”

Though TPUK has won endorsement from several leading Tories, there are indications that some in the party are not so keen. The right-wing website Breitbart website reported that university Conservative associations had been advised not to get involved with the new movement. A Conservative Party spokesman would not comment beyond saying that TPUK was not affiliated to the party.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the online battles, TPUK is bracing itself for further turbulence when it ventures beyond the internet next month to stage “campus clash” events in London, Nottingham and Brighton. Farmer says TPUK personalities including Kirk and Owen will engage in debates about issues such as free speech. Farmer acknowledges that there are “security concerns” that they are working to address.

“I imagine, if I’m honest, a whole bunch of antifa [anti-fascist] leftists will turn up at the event and try to mob us and prevent us going in,” he says. “A bunch of interested students who are genuinely interested and want to be provoked – in terms of thought – will come and will listen and will probably take away some interesting conclusions.”

A Spotify end of year chart which claims you spent 6 hours with your favourite artist Bergenulo Five

Mysterious musicians have cropped up on Spotify, racking up thousands of listens and (perhaps) hundreds of pounds. It’s a phenomenon that experts say could indicate a security flaw.


Rapper Cadet dies in car crash on his way to a gig”:

Cadet has died in a car crash on the way to a gig in Staffordshire.

The rapper’s family shared the news on his official Instagram account.

“We the family of Blaine Cameron Johnson otherwise known as Cadet (Underrated Legend) would like to share the sad news that during the early hours of 9th February 2019 he passed away.”

In a statement to Radio 1 Newsbeat, his management said the 28-year-old was a passenger in a taxi.

Cadet’s cousin Krept led the tributes online, saying he was “heartbroken”.

Staffordshire Police confirmed Cadet died in the crash in Betley in the early hours of Saturday morning.

In a statement, the force said: “Blaine Cameron Johnson, 28, of London, died after the Toyota Prius he was travelling in was involved in a collision with a Vauxhall Combo van at 1.30am.

“He was pronounced dead at the scene.”

A previous statement said that the drivers of both vehicles were taken to hospital with serious injuries and three others were also being treated in hospital.

Cadet was on his way to Keele University where he was due to perform.

This year was set to be massive for Cadet

by Nick Bright, Radio 1Xtra DJ

For us at 1Xtra he was a huge artist.

Lots of his tracks were on the playlist last year, and even as we speak at the moment one of them is on the A-list, so it’s one of the tunes that gets played the most.

To see this happen to an artist just as he’s about to break through is a really sad thing.

He’s consistently being putting out music. The Commitment and the Commitment 2 are probably two of the most known pieces of work he’d put out.

He got so much recognition from those projects alone and lots more people have been paying attention to his music.

He’s worked with Krept and Konan, two of the biggest rappers in the UK and Deno Driz on Advice.

It’s quite a small scene so when something like this happens everybody within this industry knows it’s happened.

There’s no doubt in my mind that he would have been playing at so many different places this summer because he’s got so many big songs out at the moment and loads in the pipeline.

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Cadet regularly appeared on BBC Radio 1Xtra performing at MistaJam’s Christmas Party last year.

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Cadet was due to perform at Wireless in July.

In a statement on the festival’s website, it said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and fans, of Cadet.

“Such sad news.

“We’ll be keeping his Wireless performance as a time to reflect on the memory of Blaine.”

Listen to Newsbeat liveat 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra – if you miss us you can listen back here .

Contact Email (BBCNEWS.CO.UK@bbcnewslight.co.uk) or (emmanueljustice@post.com)

In December, there had been more than 4,800 appeals against fines for using the bus gate

Chelmsford bus gate signs ‘confusing drivers’ brains’

A psychologist fined for driving through a bus gate has won her appeal after arguing there were too many signs for the brain to process.

Bernadine King’s penalty charge notice (PCN) was quashed after a tribunal ruled signage was “inadequate”.

Essex County Council has taken £1.5m after 54,000 drivers were fined using the Chelmsford bus gate in 18 months.

It said the PCNs had seen the number of people using the gate “reduce to less than a quarter” of the figure before.

Psychologist Bernadine King said there were too many signs for drivers to take in by the bus gate
Psychologist Bernadine King said there were too many signs for drivers to take in by the bus gate

Dr King – who has published several academic papers on how people process visual information – said the bus gate, a short section of road blocked off to all traffic except buses, cycles and taxis, was “endangering lives”

“Once you’re committed to turn left on Duke Street, you have no way of safely turning around,” she said.

“Drivers are being trapped in the area and they’re panicking.

“There are so many signs by the bus gate but a little contradiction in the brain means we cannot absorb all the information.

“To consciously process all the information, it may take a few seconds and by that point, you’ve already travelled 20ft or 30ft down the road.”

Height restriction sign, Chelmsford bus gate
The location of height restriction signage in the city implies the bus gate comes after the railway bridge – but it does not

After visiting the site, the traffic penalty adjudicator said that although some of the signs by the bus gate were large and easily visible, they were “cluttered” together and meant “drivers could be confused”.

Dr King, who received her PCN in November, is now calling on the council to carry out a safety review of the bus gate, which she called “a blight on Chelmsford”.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “Before turning on enforcement cameras in 2017, we increased signage at all junctions, sent more than 3,000 warning notices and painted the words “BUS GATE” in five-foot high letters on the road at both entrances to help make drivers aware of the restrictions.”

He added that all money generated by fines was “reinvested to help improve public transport, roads and the transport network across Essex”

Peter Biar Ajak was one of Sudan's "Lost Boys", displaced during the civil war

hellhole’: Cambridge University student Peter Biar Ajak ‘detained

A Cambridge University student facing the death penalty in South Sudan is being “arbitrarily detained in a modern-day hellhole”, his lawyer says.

PhD student Peter Biar Ajak, 35, a critic of his country’s regime, has been detained without charge since his arrest at Juba Airport in July.

His lawyer Jared Genser said this was “in clear violation of his rights under international law”.

The government of South Sudan could not be reached for comment.

Shortly before his arrest, Mr Ajak had tweeted about South Sudan’s “so-called leaders”.

Human rights group Amnesty International is campaigning on his behalf and his plight was highlighted this week in the United States Congress.

Mr Genser said his client was one of Sudan’s “Lost Boys”, displaced by the country’s civil war.

He resettled in the United States, studying at La Salle University in Philadelphia and Harvard University, before moving to Cambridge University.

Returning to his home country on 28 July to hold a youth forum, he was arrested and taken directly to custody.

Peter Biar Ajak
Mr Ajak is the father to two young children

Mr Genser said his client had called for the country’s current leaders to step down so that younger people could take over and achieve peace.

“This has become a real problem for the government in South Sudan, which then decides to target him for arrest and arbitrary detention because he was being a very effective critic,” he said.

On Thursday, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, who “knew Peter as a brilliant student and leader” while teaching at La Salle University, drew attention to his detention in the US House of Representatives.

Mr Genser said charges being considered by the South Sudanese authorities included treason and terrorism, both of which carry the death penalty.

“Somebody like him needs to be on the front lines fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights – not arbitrarily detained in a modern-day hellhole in clear violation of his rights under international law and for crimes he did not commit,” said Mr Genser.

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South Sudan fact file

  • The East African nation is world’s youngest, having gained independence in 2011, but has been troubled by internal conflict for much of its existence
  • A 2017-18 Amnesty International report found approximately one third of the population had been displaced by the conflict
  • By the end of 2017, UNICEF estimated that more than 19,000 child soldiers had been used in the country’s civil war
  • More than half the country’s populationfaces severe hunger and food insecurity
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A Cambridge University spokeswoman said: “The university remains deeply concerned about Peter’s welfare and his access to legal representation and the violation of his rights in accordance with the constitution of South Sudan, which guarantees all South Sudanese people liberty and security of person, due process, and freedom of expression and association.”

Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for East Africa, said Mr Ajak’s ongoing detention without charge was “absurd” and in breach of South Sudan’s own constitution and international law.

“South Sudanese authorities must either release him so he can re-join his wife and children who miss him dearly, or charge him with an offence recognised under international law,” he said

The blaze is reported to have started in an accommodation block

Flamengo football club: Young players die in Rio fire

The blaze is reported to have started in an accommodation block

A fire has engulfed a dormitory at the youth team training centre of one of Brazil’s biggest football clubs, killing 10 people.

The victims have not been named but are said to include young players staying at Ninho de Urubu, the training ground of Flamengo football club in Rio de Janeiro.

Three teenagers were also injured, one of them seriously.

The cause of the blaze is being investigated.

However, one young player said the fire started in an air conditioner in his room.

“The air conditioner caught fire, and I ran out,” said Felipe Cardoso, a player with the under-17 side. “Thank God I managed to run and I’m still alive.”

Flamengo is one of Brazil’s biggest and best-known clubs internationally. They play in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A league where they finished in second place last season.

People wait for information in front of the training center of Rio"s soccer club Flamengo, after a deadly fire in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 8, 2019
Friends and family face an anxious wait for news outside the ground

Brazil football legend Pelé described the club as “a place where young people pursue their dreams”.

“It’s a very sad day for Brazilian football,” he tweeted.

Mexico pipeline blast kills 71 and injures dozens more

Former Brazil star Ronaldinho offered his condolences for the “terrible tragedy” in a tweet on Friday morning. He published the club’s crest in black-and-white alongside the message.

What do we know so far?

According to the G1 news portal, the fire began at 05:10 (07:10 GMT) and was extinguished by 07:30.

None of the victims has been identified but the youth players are said to be aged between 14 and 16. One of the three injured, a 15-year-old boy, suffered severe burns and was transferred to a specialist hospital, reports said.

A civil defence vehicle transports a body after the fire in the training centre of Flamengo football club, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 8 February 2019
Bodies of the victims have been transported away from the training centre

The area has been hit by severe storms and heavy rain in recent days and the weather may have left the facility without water or electricity when the fire struck, G1 reported.

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Flamengo’s pride in youth academy

Analysis by Fernando Duarte, BBC Brasil

Flamengo is one of the few Brazilian clubs that can boast an expressive national fan base in Brazil. A poll released last April suggested they are the first team for 32.5 million Brazilians.

The club owes a great chunk of this support to an incredible run of four Brazilian titles and a victorious Copa Libertadores campaign (the South American version of the Uefa Champions League) in the 1980s.

Brazil ‘faith healer’ John of God surrenders to police

It has also produced arguably one of the greatest all-time Brazilian players – Arthur Antunes “Zico” Coimbra, a member of the 1982 World Cup squad that failed to win the titles but won worldwide plaudits for its slick style.

The club is also proud of the tradition of its youth academy – their motto is “we make our star players at home” – which will make this tragedy even sadder.

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Who are Flamengo?

The club’s most prominent former players include World Cup winners Ronaldinho, Bebeto and Romario.

As well as being one of Brazil’s most successful football clubs, Flamengo also has basketball, rowing, swimming and volleyball teams.

In a tweet on Friday, the team said it was “in mourning”.

The Ninho de Urubu (“Vulture’s Nest” – so named because the symbol of the club is a vulture) centre underwent a major expansion last year, with the club spending 23m reals (£4.8m, $6.2m), Reuters news agency reports.

BBC map

The site features accommodation for young players, several pitches, an aquatic park, a gym, a medical centre and a mini stadium.

The club were due to play their rivals Fluminense on Saturday. The game has been postponed, and other clubs have expressed their condolences.

Real Madrid player Vinícius Júnior, who also played for Flamengo, tweeted a crying emoji, writing, “Such sad news. Pray for everyone. Strength strength, strength.”

A fire truck is seen in front of the training centre of Rio's soccer club Flamengo after a deadly fire in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 8, 2019.
The facility was said to be state of the art

Just over two years ago, Brazil’s football world was rocked by disaster when a plane carrying top football team Chapecoense crashed in Colombia.

Contact Email (BBCNEWS.CO.UK@bbcnewslight.co.uk) or (emmanueljustice@post.com)

Recent Posts

Oreo accompanied the film's director to its red carpet premiere

Oreo the raccoon: Guardians of the Galaxy model dies aged 10

Oreo the raccoon, the real-life model for Guardians of the Galaxy character Rocket, has died aged 10.

The news was announced on the comic book superhero team’s Facebook page.

“Oreo passed away in the early hours of this morning after a very short illness,” it reads. “Many thanks to our wonderful vets for their compassion and care.”

Rocket the raccoon was voiced by Bradley Cooper in the 2014 film and its 2017 sequel.

Oreo died after a short illness early on Thursday morning, the Facebook post says.

“You have been an amazing ambassador for raccoons everywhere,” it reads. “You were perfect.”

Oreo accompanied the film’s director to its red carpet premiere

Oreo accompanied the film’s director, James Gunn to the Guardians of the Galaxy premiere.

Disney fired Mr Gunn as director of the planned third Guardians film over offensive social media posts – but the cast backed him and he is reportedly working on another superhero film script.

The character Rocket first appeared in a 1976 Marvel comic book, and was named after The Beatles song Rocky Raccoon.

Mr Cooper also voiced the role in the Avengers: Infinity War film and its upcoming sequel, Avengers: Endgame.

Actor Sean Gunn – brother of James – provided the motion capture performance for the character, while Rocket’s physical characteristics in the films are based on Oreo’s.

Tributes poured in for the raccoon on social media.

Mrs McCain, right, with her family at a 2010 Republican event

Cindy McCain apologises after police dispute human trafficking claim”:

Cindy McCain, the widow of former US Senator John McCain, has apologised after police disputed her claim that she stopped a human trafficking case.

Mrs McCain told KTAR radio she thwarted a crime by alerting Phoenix airport police to a woman of a different ethnicity than the child she was with.

But Phoenix police told the station on Wednesday that they found no criminal wrongdoing after performing the check.

Critics on social media have accused her of racial profiling and harassment.

What exactly happened?

“I came in from a trip I’d been on and I spotted – it looked odd – it was a woman of a different ethnicity than the child, this little toddler she had, and something didn’t click with me,” said Mrs McCain, 64, who also co-chair’s the Arizona governor’s anti-trafficking taskforce.

“I went over to the police and told them what I saw, and they went over and questioned her, and, by God, she was trafficking that kid,” she told the radio station on Monday.

“It was a toddler. She was waiting for the guy who bought the child to get off an airplane,” she added.

Phoenix police told local media that on the date in question – 30 January – police performed a welfare check based on Mrs McCain’s tip, but found “no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment”.

Mrs McCain, who has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh, later took to Twitter, saying: “I reported an incident that I thought was trafficking… I apologise if anything else I have said on this matter distracts from ‘if you see something, say something'”.

What has the reaction been?

Critics have attacked Mrs McCain, claiming that she had police “harass” an innocent family due to her own racial profiling.

Many more found her claim puzzling, considering that she herself has a daughter that is a different ethnicity from her.

End of Twitter post by @Ugarles

Mrs McCain and her daughter Bridget at the 2008 Republican political convention
Mrs McCain and her adopted daughter Bridget at the 2008 Republican political convention

Many also took issue with her apology, which they note did not include a direct apology for falsely claiming to have prevented a genuine trafficking case.

Others defended her for alerting police to her hunch.

Last year, Southwest Airlines issued an apology after asking a California woman to prove that she was the mother of her bi-racial son.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, according to the United Nations.

Trafficking in the US often spikes around the time of the Super Bowl in early February, as experts recently told BBC News’ Cut Through the Noise Facebook show (best viewed on mobile).

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring

Virginia’s attorney general admits wearing blackface in college”:

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has acknowledged wearing “brown makeup” to a party, days after the state governor admitting wearing blackface.

The second-in-line to the governor’s seat said in a statement on Wednesday that he wore a costume to a party when he was 19 years old at university.

Mr Herring had joined calls for Governor Ralph Northam to quit over a racist photo and blackface scandal.

The lieutenant governor is meanwhile battling a sex assault claim.

All three men are Democrats. If they were to resign over these controversies, Virginia could be led by the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox.

What exactly has Herring admitted?

On Wednesday the attorney general confessed that he also once used blackface.

Mr Herring said that in 1980, he and his friends donned costumes after “some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song”.

“It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup,” he said.

Ralph Northams page in the 1984 yearbook of Eastern Virginia Medical School in which he reportedly appears in blackface with a friend in a KKK costume
Ralph Northam’s page in the 1984 yearbook of Eastern Virginia Medical School

“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behaviour could inflict on others.”

Mr Herring did not offer to step down and wrote of his “efforts to empower communities of colour” and “to combat the rise in hate crimes and white supremacist violence that is plaguing our Commonwealth and our country”.

On Saturday, Mr Herring joined a chorus of fellow Democrats calling on Mr Northam to resign after an image surfaced from his 1984 medical yearbook page showing a person in blackface, and another in Ku Klux Klan robes.

Mr Northam has denied it was him in the racist photo, but has acknowledged wearing blackface on a separate occasion that year while dressing up as Michael Jackson.

Mr Herring said it was “no longer possible” for Mr Northam to serve as governor.

A Washington Post editorial on Wednesday called on Mr Northam to resign.

Presentational grey line

The scandals metastasise

Analysis box by Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter

Virginia Democrats are running out of top officials not beset by scandal.

With Attorney General Mark Herring’s revelation that he, too, once wore blackface, the situation has metastasised from a controversy ensnaring one man – Governor Northam – to an indication of a larger problem.

Cruel, intolerant actions that were once considered acceptable, at least among a certain crowd, are now, decades later, having political consequences.

In her response to the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Stacey Abrams – the black woman who narrowly lost her bid to be Georgia’s governor – obliquely addressed the issue.

“We continue to confront racism from our past and in our present, which is why we must hold everyone from the highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds and call racism what it is, wrong,” she said.

Virginians – and Democrats across the US – are now grappling with racist deeds within their own family.

It has thrown the state’s leadership into turmoil. Accountability, however, could be harder to realise. The cold political reality is that the more top politicians are touched, the less likely it is any of them will go.

What about the deputy governor?

As the blackface scandal engulfed the governor’s mansion, many Democrats said his deputy, Lt Governor Justin Fairfax, should take over.

But since Sunday Mr Fairfax has been denying a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her 15 years ago.

On Wednesday, Vanessa Tyson came forward to recount the alleged assault in disturbing detail through a statement issued by her lawyers.

Now a California college professor, she says Mr Fairfax forced her to perform a sex act on him during the 2004 Democratic political convention in Boston.

Prof Tyson said he had invited her back to his hotel room during the political jamboree to retrieve some documents.

Governor Northam: I am not the person in that photo

While in the suite, she says, they kissed. But, her statement adds, “what began as consensual kissing quickly turned into an assault”.

“I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual,” she said of their encounter.

“After the assault, I suffered from both deep humiliation and shame.”

On Wednesday, Mr Fairfax said reading her statement had been “painful”, but insisted he was innocent.

His office meanwhile denied an NBC report that he used an expletive-laden outburst in reference to Prof Taylor, during a private meeting on Monday night.

The National Organization for Women has called on Mr Fairfax to resign.

The state's top three Democratics are now all facing scandals
Justin Fairfax (second left), Ralph Northam (centre) and Mark Herring (second right) in happier times

Chicago is using fire to melt snow on the railway and keep the trains running

Polar vortex: Ice quakes, burning railways and other quirky effects…,

The icy winds of the polar vortex have set US teeth chattering, blowing in a flurry of quirky results, from “frost quakes” to burning railway tracks – and a debate on whether Americans are going soft.

Frost quakes

Cryoseisms – also known as “frost quakes” – have been reported by Ohio and Pennsylvania residents who have been hearing loud booms from the ground.

The quakes are caused when large amounts of moisture settle into the earth from snow and rain, then a rapid plunge in temperature causes the ice to explosively expand.

“It sounded like a big piece of furniture fell over,” Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, resident Michelle Tebbetts told WHP-TV.

“These frost quakes, they sound more like a boom or a bang and then we get a little shake in the house,” said Steven Tebbetts.

Much of the Chicago River has frozen over

America getting soft?

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, whose state is experiencing temperatures of -14C (6F), lamented school closures in a radio interview on Tuesday.

“I mean, what happens to America?” the Republican said, twice adding: “We’re getting soft.”

“I’m being only slightly facetious,” he said, “but it does concern me a little bit that in America on this and any number of other fronts, we’re sending messages to our young people that if life is hard you can curl up in the foetal position – somewhere in a warm place – and wait till it stops being hard, and that just isn’t reality, it just isn’t.”

The Kentucky Education Association said in a statement on Twitter: “We will always support decisions made for the health & safety of Kentucky’s children. Always.”

NBC news national meteorologist Al Roker condemned Mr Bevin as a “nitwit governor” on Wednesday. Others have been taking to social media to dare him to spend more than 15 minutes outside in the cold.

Burning railways

Commuter train tracks in Chicago have been set ablaze as transit workers try to keep the steel from freezing, so trains can keep moving.

Polar vortex: Ice quakes, burning railways and other quirky effects...,
Chicago is using fire to melt snow on the railway and keep the trains running

Overhead video captured by news helicopters show flames licking the rails.

Basically, what the fires are, they’re gas powered switch heaters and essentially you’re looking at a giant gas grill,” Metra Commuter Rail spokeswoman Mel Riele told the Chicago Tribune.

The heat from the fire keeps the metal from contracting, causing fractures in the tracks, and also prevents switches from freezing or bolts coming out of the rails, she said.

No mail

Residents in at least 10 US states won’t be receiving their mail on Wednesday, as the chill has caused the US Postal Service to cancel deliveries.

It’s not the first time that mail has been cancelled due to weather, but typically that has been due to massive amounts of snow accumulated on roads by drifting winds.

So much for the US Postal Service’s unofficial motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

No talking!

The National Weather Service has warned that people in Iowa should “avoid taking deep breaths” and “minimise talking” while exposed to the cold.

“Dry, extremely cold air can irritate the lungs, cause shortness of breath and trigger asthma attacks for those with lung-related diseases like asthma,” the American Lung Association said in a warning.

If you must go outside, be sure to cover your face and mouth with a scarf or mask to warm the air you inhale, experts say.

Snow jokes

Temperatures in the town of Hell, Michigan – its actual motto is “Go to Hell” – have hit -22F (-30C), cueing up a somewhat predictable gag.

Chicago’s production of the musical Hamilton has been cancelled, leading to this history buffs’ joke. It’s a reference to US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s duelling death at the hands of then-US Vice-President Aaron Burr in 1804.

Some Chicago residents have blended their city’s name with Siberia, Russia – dubbing it “Chiberia”.

Polar bears in their element

Buffalo Zoo in upstate New York is closed on Wednesday because of the weather, but that’s just fine by its resident polar bear Sakari.

Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo as well as the city’s Lincoln Park Zoo are both closed and most animals will be brought indoors, representatives said.

But polar bears and other species specially adapted to extreme cold, such as Arctic foxes and penguins, will be allowed to remain to frolic in the snow and ice.

Frozen boiling water

Across the internet, people are throwing cups of boiling water in the air, with the liquid immediately turning to ice crystals that appear as vapour in the dry air.

The viral sensation is proving especially popular among meteorologists, science teachers, and children who have been told to stay home from school due to the conditions.

Other have taken to filling water pistols with boiling water to create steaming arcs across their backyards.

Others are blowing soap bubbles and watching them freeze into an icy sphere in midair.

Let her go!’

Police in McClean, Illinois, posted a photo of a staged arrest of Elsa, also known as the Snow Queen from Disney’s 2013 film Frozen.

“Due to the EXTREME COLD weather, all criminal activity and acts of stupidity and foolishness has been cancelled… Even Elsa has been placed under arrest with NO BOND until further notice,” they wrote in a Facebook post.

The image was originally posted in 2015 by officers in Hanahan, South Carolina, but that hasn’t stopped some from insisting they “let her go” in reference to the title of the Academy Award-winning song from the film.

McLean police department

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Newspaper headlines: 'May woos Labour MPs with cash'..'

Newspaper headlines: ‘May woos Labour MPs with cash’..’

The prime minister is planning to “entice” Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal by offering cash to their constituencies, reports the Times. The paper says Theresa May could provide “a cash injection into deprived areas that supported Leave, including former mining communities”.

The i
Sticking with Brexit, the i sees reason for optimism for Mrs May, suggesting “cracks” are appearing in EU ranks. The paper says there is “genuine determination” among European politicians to avoid a hard Brexit.

The Sun
“Kylie in 999 stalker terror” is the headline on the front page of the Sun. The paper reports the Australian singer had to call police after a “scary oddball… laid siege to her home”.

Daily Express
The NHS is set to hire 20,000 new members of staff, according to the Daily Express. The paper says the five-year plan was agreed on Wednesday night between “health chiefs” and the British Medical Association.

The Metro leads on a story about a Facebook scheme that gathered highly personal data from paid volunteers. TechCrunch, which first exposed the story, said participants – including those aged 13-17 – had been paid up to $20 (£15.30) a month to open up their phones to deep analysis by the social media firm. The scheme has now been halted.

Daily Telegraph
Following a similar theme to the Metro, the Daily Telegraph leads on its campaign calling for “technology giants” to have a “statutory duty of care to protect children from online harms”. The paper says its campaign has backing from MPs such as Norman Lamb and that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is considering introducing both a duty of care and a new web regulator.

The Guardian
Children as young as 12 could be punished with “new Asbo-style orders” in an effort to “clamp down on knife crime”, according to the Guardian. The paper says the new measures will “place curbs” on suspects, preventing them from doing things such as accessing social media. Breaching the rules could result in up to two years in jail.

The new measures to tackle knife crime also feature on the front page of the Daily Mirror. Unlike the Guardian, however, the Mirror says the plan shows the Tories are “out of touch” and that campaigners believe it to be a “gimmick”.

Financial Times
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has told EU leaders they should “prepare for the worst” as the 29 March Brexit deadline approaches, reports the Financial Times. Mr Juncker says the UK’s attempts to reopen the withdrawal agreement have greatly increased the chances of a disorderly no-deal Brexit.

Daily Star
In yet another front page about “snowflakes”, the Daily Star leads on quotes from comedian Russell Brand, who has called for an end to “tickling” – particularly with regards to his own children.

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The blitz was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia ends major anti-corruption campaign..,

Princes and other senior figures were held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh last year

Saudi Arabia says it has ended its anti-corruption drive, launched in 2017, that saw hundreds of princes, tycoons and business chiefs rounded up.

More than $100bn (£76bn) in assets – including property and cash – has been recouped by the state, officials in the Gulf kingdom say.

They say settlements were reached with 87 individuals who confessed to the charges against them.

Eight others refused to do so and have been referred to the public prosecutor.

Another 56 cases have not been settled because of criminal charges yet to be resolved.

The crackdown was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in November 2017.

More than 200 princes, ministers and business officials have been held, many of them in hotels in the capital, Riyadh, including the five-star Ritz-Carlton.

Kurdish protesters storm Turkish military camp in Iraq

Iran arrested 7,000 in crackdown on dissent during 2018 – Amnesty

Israeli teenager charged with killing Palestinian woman in stone attack

The purge of Saudi Arabia’s elite was a huge shock to the system, the BBC’s Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. File photo
The blitz was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The campaign has also unsettled some foreign investors.

The crown prince must now hope that drawing a line under the purge will convince investors it is safe to put money into Saudi Arabia, our editor says.

Mohammed bin Salman has also been under intense pressure since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 October 2018.

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